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Great Leaders and Decisive Moments in Zionist History

In this course, we will study Zionist history during the crucial century from the founding of the modern movement to create a Jewish state in 1897 through the mid-1990’s. We shall do so by examining six great leaders: Theodor Herzl, who convened the First Zionist Congress; Ze’ev Jabotinsky, founder and leader of Revisionist Zionism; David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding prime minister; Golda Meir, a key figure in establishing the state; Menachem Begin, Jabotinsky’s successor and a prime minister who left an enduring legacy; and Yitzhak Rabin, who as prime minister sought to secure peace with Israel’s neighbors.

In each session, we will look at how a particular leader addressed a situation calling for a strategic decision and bold action. We shall do so through close reading of a great speech that leader gave, alongside the circumstances that made that moment so decisive and the consequences of the leader’s words and actions. In the seventh and final session, we will draw lessons on oratory, leadership, and nation building.

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